The Chinese government has issued new guidelines to regulate dockless bike-sharing services. It has asked local governments to take bike sharing into account in their transport planning and encouraged the firms involved to set up electronic fences indicating appropriate areas for parking.
There are tens of millions of shared bikes on the streets of China with major players such as Ofo and Mobike having now secured millions of pounds of investment in recent times with which to pursue international expansion.
However, one of the great strengths of the schemes – that bikes do not need to be left at specified docking locations – has also given rise to controversy.
The European Cyclists Federation has expressed fears about the ‘disruptive’ approach of some firms and there have been major concerns about bikes cluttering up public spaces.
Last week Wandsworth Council removed scores of dockless Obikes for obstructing pavements, but the problem is far greater in China where rival firms have been flooding cities with bikes for far longer in a bid to corner what remains a rapidly growing market.
Xinhuanet reports that the Chinese government has now issued guidelines in a bid to address such issues.
Users are now obliged to register using their real names and local governments have been asked to punish individuals who park outside permitted areas or who vandalise the bikes.
They have also been asked to consider bike-sharing as part of overall traffic planning and to implement standards on maintenance and bicycle life spans.
To solve the parking problem, local governments are required to improve their bike network and set up parking areas for bikes.